What is a positive birth?
This is not a question I am going to attempt to answer but one which I will explore and one which will have a different answer for each person asked. For some it will be having a calm birth in a midwifery-led unit, dim lights, candles and birthing their baby in water. For others it will be an obstetric led planned caesarean section. Neither is wrong and both can be positive experiences. Midwives will also have an alternative view of their own of a positive birth. For me, a positive birth is one in which the woman has contributed to her care in the form of birth planning from informed choices made throughout her pregnancy, having continuity of care and/or carer and having a birth facilitated in a way in which the woman has chosen.
Yesterday morning I was called to the obstetric unit for a lady who attended in labour with her baby in the breech presentation at term. I had met this lady the week previous for birth planning, she had been referred to me because her baby was found to be in the breech presentation at thirty-eight weeks gestation. I initially had a telephone consultation with woman and discussed her options for breech birth (she had already had a failed ECV). I then met for a face-to-face consultation with the woman and again discussed her options for breech birth and answered the many questions which she had. She still had not made a decision regarding her mode of birth but I arranged for her to see her consultant obstetrician the following day.
The next morning she attended the obstetric unit contracting irregularly. I was called down to see her and we talked about how she would like proceed now she was contracting. She decided that she would like to proceed with a vaginal breech birth which I said I would support her with. Following an examination the labour began to progress very quickly, forty-five minutes later she looked at me and informed me she needed to bear down. Seven minutes later her baby was born in an upright position, although it was a complex birth baby was born and cried within a minute of age, requiring no resuscitation, had skin-to-skin and breastfed within an hour of birth. The mother had an intact perineum and was able to go home a few hours later. She was delighted that she had not had a caesarean section and felt fit and well following the birth.
This was a positive birthing experience for myself not just because I was able to facilitate a safe birth with a positive outcome, but also because I knew the woman, I had built a rapport with the woman – continuity of carer gives such a positive experience not just for women but for midwives too. If you are a healthcare worker reading this blog and have a positive birthing experience of your own you would like to share, then please do get in contact. I would love to share your experiences too.